Instant gratification or the full experience of growing a plant from bud to bloom? While color may catch the customer's eye at retail, does that make for a successful gardening experience at home?
This was a topic of discussion at OFA Short Course's Town Meeting. Click here for the article on TodaysGardenCenter.com Smackdown: Should We Sell Plants In Bud Or In Bloom?
So what do you think? Does the desire for instant gratification mean your plants must be in bloom at retail, or does the gardening public want to participate in the journey from bud to bloom?
I tried and tried and tried to sell both annuals and perennials in bud for years with colorful signs next to the plants showing how they would look in a very short time. My experience is that they would sit and barely sell until they were at least 50% in color. Experienced home owners/customers knew there was more value and easier transplant with plants in bud but the vast majority of customers would not buy until a lot of color showed. Go figure!
Most things that we like are visually pleasing. A lot of research and time is spent making products visually appealing and you'll never change the fact that most marketing is visually driven. Even Radio will force you to render a image in your head of what the product looks like. It's they way it is and the way it will always be. How many of us weren't visually attracted to our spouse when we first met them?;)
Eric, My wife married me for my sparkling personality! :)
Thirty eight years in lawn and garden and it has been and will always be that color sells. No more discussion, I R an expert!
We all know color sells, but I agree with the folks in the TGC article and those who left comments there that we should teach consumers the benefits of buying plants out of bloom. This is especially true with perennials. I'm not saying an IGC should be wall to wall green, but by only ever selling what's in flower, aren't we selling ourselves short as an industry? Yes, we live in a world of instant gratification, but shouldn't we strive for more than that? I want more than that. I want to reveal the magic in gardening, the joy of watching something grow and return year after year like a good friend. Given that it's the fall season right now, we should all be educating our customers about the enormous benefits of fall planting. The more we teach them how to be successful, the more we'll be successful. And, at the risk of stirring up a hornets nest, if we teach customers that they should only ever buy what's in full bloom by only ever offering what's in full bloom, we're handing a fairly nice gift to the box stores who have already figured out how to offer color for the entire growing season. Color is great. Color is happy and profitable and at least temporarily fulfilling, but we should be more than just color.
I take a plant in bloom as an "example" to a farmers market I sell at, then I don't sell that one until the end of the market. I make the people take the ones in bud. That way I have the color to draw them in, and they get to watch it bloom at home.
Color sells, and we are wrong to think people want to be "taught". The Customers who want the experience of growing a plant will buy smaller plants, because they often want many more than just one. But I think those people are increasingly the exception.
I think it's simple, in bloom for retail consumers and in bud for commercial consumers. As a designer I want to see plants that have a healthy root stock first, well developed canopy second, and blooms are third on my list. Smart consumers may pick through your stock in a retail environment but flowers and plants usually sell because they are pretty/look good so enhancing that is a good marketing move. I believe consumers want to experience the bloom first, then experience the bud to bloom journey the next year.